Sports: Asia wins record four titles in Wimbledon

Asian tennis celebrated its most successful year in Wimbledon’s 138-year old history, with Asian players sharing four titles – women’s doubles, mixed doubles, boys’ doubles and Yui Kamiji of Japan combining with Britain’s Jordanne Whiley to win the wheelchair ladies’ doubles finals for the second consecutive year. Japan’s 18-year old Akira Santillan was a runner-up in the boys’ doubles, partnering the boy’s singles champion, the 6ft 10in tall 17-yr old Reilly Opelka from Michigan.

On a concluding Sunday evening of July 12, after a sparkling Novak Djokovic conquered crowd favourite Roger Federer in four sets to win the singles title, India’s Leander Paes combined with former world champion Martina Hingis of Switzerland to win their second Grand Slam mixed doubles trophy, including the Australian Open this year.

Under a roof-covered Centre Court on a rainy English summer evening, the India-Swiss duo took 41 minutes to demolish fifth seeds Alexander Peya and Timea Babos, in a one-sided 6-1, 6-1 win of sheer, unforgettable brilliance.

Vietnam’s Nam Hoang Ly (18) and India’s 17-year old Sumit Nagpal then ensured a special if not historic Wimbledon year for Asia, overcoming fourth seeds Reilly Opelka (US) and Akira Santillan (Japan) 7-6(4), 6-4 in the  boys’ doubles championship. Nam Hoang Ly became the first Vietnamese to win a Grand Slam title.

Nam Hoang Ly -- Vietnam's first  Grand Slam winner

Nam Hoang Ly — Vietnam’s first Grand Slam winner

The previous Saturday night, India’s Sania Mirza had partnered Hingis to win the women’s doubles finals. A sleepless, excited Hingis went to bed at 3.00 am, woke up early next morning to practice for her Mixed Doubles finals, and then with Paes produced one of the most sublime doubles tennis ever seen on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

Hingis and Paes, often beaming at each other and sharing a happy team chemistry that was joyous to watch, put on a stunning display of serve and volley tennis, deft touches, electric doubles-court coverage, down-the-line and cross-court winners that soon left their opponents, Alexander Peya (Austria) and Timea Babos (Hungary), shaking their heads in shocked disbelief.

Paes and Hingis took just 19 minutes to win the first set. They continued the good work with such extraordinary emphasis that their opponents could either wail in helpless frustration, or laugh at their plight of facing such brilliance bordering on the bizarre. They chose the latter. And by the end of the match, the Centre Court crowd enjoyed the unique sight of all four players in a Wimbledon final smiling broadly during the closing minutes of their championship match. “Pey and Babos seemed to be playing two players from another planet,” said a BBC match commentator, at the end of 41 special minutes.

Leander Paes and Martina Hingis during their Mixed Doubles Wimbledon win; Photo courtesy The All England Lawn Tennis Club

Leander Paes and Martina Hingis during their Mixed Doubles Wimbledon win; Photo courtesy The All England Lawn Tennis Club

Another expert described the Paes-Hingis effort as the most dominant display ever seen in a Grand Slam doubles finals. The Guardian newspaper’s Sean Ingle in the Guardian match report said, “It was so good it could be released as an instructional DVD on how to play mixed doubles tennis.”

Their emphatic win was the sixteenth Grand Slam doubles trophy for Paes, and the first mixed doubles Wimbledon win for Martina Hingis, to add to her five singles and ten doubles Grand Slam triumphs.

The Leander Paes-Martina Hingis spectacular special can be seen in this Star Sports replay of the 2015 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles final (Click on Paes/ Hingis vs Peya/Babos) 41 mins, video.

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